C. F. Martin 00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1929)

C. F. Martin  00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1929)
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Item # 8897
Prices subject to change without notice.
C. F. Martin 00-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1929), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 37964, natural finish, Adirondack spruce top, Honduras mahogany sides and neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge, rosewood bound top, black hard shell case.

The 12-fret, steel string Martins of the late 1920s and very early 1930s are some of our very favorite guitars. For only a few years right at this time -- just before Martin altered nearly all their designs to the 14-fret neck "Orchestra Model" pattern -- the company crafted a relatively small number of these traditional long-body scallop-braced flat-tops braced for steel strings instead of the gut used previously.

The other features are pretty much as they had been since the last century, with a wide ebony fingerboard on the neck which joins the body at the 12th fret. These guitars were the final evolution of the original 19th century Martin patterns before the "modern" 14-fret design became the standard just a few years later. This early 1929 guitar has the old-style slim ebony bridge and no pickguard, features which would soon be changed to the more familiar modern pattern.

The Style 18 designation signifies a fairly modest instrument, the 00-18 being the middle mahogany model in the company's line, between the smaller 0-18 and the 15" wide 000-18. These Style 18 models were built with mahogany back and sides instead of the even-at-the-time costly Brazilian rosewood but still maintain the same quality workmanship standards as the highest-grade instruments. The trim is simple with rosewood binding on the body, plain wood soundhole rings and small graduated dot inlay on the unbound ebony fingerboard. The tuners are simple unplated brass strip units with celluloid buttons.

This 00-18 was built very early in 1929 and is one of just 227 shipped that year, priced at $45.00, which seems like an incredible bargain even calculated in period money. Although produced in larger quantity than the higher priced models, this 00-18 is still a rare guitar by today's standards. 1920's Martins were made in very small numbers compared to later periods, and if the original price seems laughable today this was still a fairly expensive flat-top guitar at the time.

This one has had some general wear and tear but has not seen nearly as much heavy playing as many, remaining in better-preserved and more original condition than most period survivors. The sound is more powerful than one might expect for a smaller instrument and has surprising depth. It makes a great fingerstyle guitar, and also works very well with a flatpick, from stringband music to early jazz and beyond. It remains a testament to its builder's skill and reputation and at least as fine a mahogany 12-fret 00-sized model as anyone has ever made -- then or since.
Overall length is 38 1/8 in. (96.8 cm.), 14 1/8 in. (35.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/8 in. (48 mm.). Overall this is a beautiful and very original example of this early steel-string Martin 00, with some light wear but no major finish loss or repair. The neck has been neatly reset and the original bridge has a new saddle, but everything else remains original on the instrument. The very small maple bridgeplate is intact with very little wear. The only crack is one small sealed grain split just off the tailblock near the center seam; the top is amazingly crack-free.

The finish shows numerous small dings dents and scratches, but no large areas of loss. The top has some pickwear into but only barely through the finish in the area where Martin would soon put a pickguard, for just this reason! This is simply a spectacular sounding guitar; powerful, evenly balanced and super responsive in any style of play. This model only existed in this 12-fret steel string form for a relatively brief time, and this is one of the finest we have seen. Excellent Condition.